This was my first ever attempt at making a gingerbread house from scratch so I decided to make a Hobbit house because I figured it would be easier to hide my inevitable mistakes. Looking back now I wish I hade done a few things differently but over all I am pleased with my final project.
Step 1: The Pattern
Before I get into the first steps let me tell you, some of my photos don't exactly match up to the photos shown. This project was a lot of trial and error with many last minute switches. I really should have put some more planning into my initial design before starting and the assembly process really proved that to me.
To drawn the front of the house I referenced photos online for Bilbo's house. I didn't want to make an exact replica because of how difficult the details would be but I tried to get in a few key features. The main focus I made was on the placement of the front door and windows. When drawing the pattern I made sure that I went a little bigger than I thought I needed to make the decorating easier. Also, keep in mind when drawing that the house that everything will eventually be made out of a delicate substance so don't go too fine with your lines unless you are okay with a few broken pieces on your hands.
You will need to have pieces that are the front of the house, the sides, the roof that hangs over the top, a door and smalls details as you please, I don't want to encourage you to cut out the exact shapes that I used since the didn't work out as great as planned but use them as an idea, This gingerbread house ( like all of them really) has no rules, have fun with it, changes the shapes or the build to what suits you.
Step 2: The Dough
I've made plenty of gingerbread cookies in my life but I have never made one who's sole purpose was to become freestanding. Instead of sticking with my usual recipe I went to the internet for some help. This is the recipe I chose.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
2 tbsp water
Cream butter, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together. Next, add in flour and water. Chill for at least 30 min ( I did over night). Bake at 375 for 15 min.
I used a double batch of dough for my house and had only scraps left over. I also kept an eye on the cooking time and varied it depending on the sizes on the tray.
Step 3: Cutting Out the Pieces
I knew if I tried to cut out the shapes on the table and them move them onto the tray I would warp the shapes. To be sure I didn't accidently ruin anything I rolled out the dough on the sheets I would be using and cut it on there. I cut out all of my pieces plus a couple extras incase anything broke. When cutting out the door I used the back of a knife to slightly press in to give a bit of detail. I also cut out many little squares that would later be attached all around the door and windows as the brick on Bilbo's house.
Bilbo's house is set in a hill so the roof isn't your traditional gingerbread roof. I wanted to make it slightly rounded so I took a chance and tried wrapping the dough around an oven safe bowl with aluminum foil in between. Typically I use parchment paper or a silpat for my baking but I couldn't used either for a domed shape like this.
To my surprise, not only did the gingerbread not spread or slide down the sides of the bowl but it also removed very easily.
Step 4: The Glass Windows
With my gingerbread house experiment already going better than anticipated I decided to push my luck once more. I have seen on tv and online, people melt hard candies into holes in cookies to make a clear window. Luckily I happened to have a few clear peppermints in my pocket that a customer at the store I work at gave me so I used those. I roughly crushed the candies and put half in each window hole. The results turned out amazing in my opinion. The candy melted and remained clear except for some bubbles which I popped with a toothpick before the candy once again became hardened.
My nerves were getting the better of me and I was afraid that the front of my house wasn't firm enough. With little dough left and no more clear peppermints I wanted some peace of mind. I used some chocolate melts I had to roughly slop over the back to add some extra support. Weather they helped or not, who knows but my house is still standing!
Step 5: Assembly
To "glue" on the bricks I used melted chocolate which worked wonderfully. It worked so well in fact that I used it for the rest of the assembly. I have never liked using the royal icing that comes with the gingerbread houses that I have previously purchased so I figured this time it was my house, my rules.
I wish I could say the rest of the assembly went as well as the other steps up until now. I really, really wish I could. Once I started trying to attach the front, walls and roof/dome it was a bit of a disaster. I had many hands holding, gluing and supporting all while I scrambled to keep my dream of the hobbit house alive. Don't let my mistakes discourage you from attempting this, again, learn from my poor planning. More supporting pieces and having extra hands ready to go would have solved all of my issues.
Step 6: Raising It Up
Now that the main build was done it was time to add the fun details. Bilbo's house is on a bit of a hill and has stairs, I really wanted to keep this part in. I used a smaller cake board for the house for the sole reason that I could glue it onto another. I used an empty and clean tuna can to raise up the house. I used a lot of hot glue to sandwich the can between the boards securely.
Step 7: The Stairs and Filling in the Gaps
I bake quite a few cakes and I have learned that rice crispy treats are really your best friend. I used some premade ones for stairs leading up to the doorway and to fill in under the house and any gaps that my poor house design left me with, it worked great.
Top giver myself a nice and even blank surface to decorate on I slathered on a thick coat of buttercream and coated the stairs with melted chocolate. This is the recipe I used for the icing :
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine
4 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons water
I don't know about you but I never eat gingerbread houses. I love to admire and create them but it ends there so I didn't need to add extras to make the icing taste good.
Step 8: Decorating
The decorating was actually quite simple. I used my extra buttercream icing and dyed it green, I then used a piping bag with a tip that had a lot of small holes in the end to make my "grass". I also used this silicone mold and some white, pink and green fondant to add the small nature details. You can add as much or as little decoration as you please. I was very torn with the idea of making it somewhat true to the movies or more of a festive feel but I was afraid it would be unrecognizable as a hobbit house if I took to many liberties.
So this is my Hobbit house! it may not be my greatest Instructable to date but I really hope it inspired you to get creative with your next gingerbread house! :)